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Brittney Bullock, valedictorian of Epping High School's Class of 2014, speaks to her fellow graduates Friday night in the school's gymnasium. “From this point on, we can be whoever we want to be,” Bullock said to her classmates and the crowd of parents, family members and friends in the gym's overflowing bleachers. (MIKE LAWRENCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

Epping High's graduates urged to follow their hearts

EPPING — Class of 2014 valedictorian Brittney Bullock talked about years of memories as she spoke to her 49 fellow graduates Friday night at Epping High School, giving a family feel to the ceremony in the tight-knit community where the middle school is in the same building.

“We have been here for each others’ successes and struggles,” Bullock said. “We have stood together and experienced so many things as a group.”

Bullock said her class and her school had many things to celebrate this year, including a Division IV boys’ basketball championship in March — the Blue Devils first such title since 1992. The title was mentioned at least twice by speakers at the graduation, and drew rowdy cheers each time from the crowd of attendees who overflowed the bleachers in the school’s gymnasium.

Bullock said she hoped the winning ways would continue for her peers in all aspects of life.

“The future truly is in our hands, so we should settle for nothing less than success,” Bullock said. “Congratulations, Class of 2014 — we did it.”Salutatorian Jillian Venuti reminded her classmates that all of them had earned their success and their diplomas Friday night.

“Our hard work has paid off,” Venuti said. “We understand how important hard work really is because it leads to moments like this.”Principal Kyle Repucci told the Class of 2014 to “embrace the mess” of an imperfect world, accept failure and always strive to move forward.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition,” Repucci said. “Everything else is secondary.”Honors graduate Cassidy Garrow was all smiles after the ceremony, as she hugged friends and posed for photos with her family. She said she plans to attend Keene State College in the fall to study athletic training.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I can’t wait to go.”

Asked about the most surprising thing that happened on a day of big emotions, Garrow cited something relatively small.

“I didn’t trip while walking (in my gown),” she said with a laugh.

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